Copper helps your cookware heat quickly and maintains an even temperature, but the trick is finding a piece, or set, that fits your needs and is within your budget.
The M'Passion copper saucepan is a good place to start for those serious about making candy or complicated sauces.
If budget isn’t a concern, the Matfer Bourgeat copper cookware set offers the basics and can be set on display with its pure red copper shine.
In this guide, you will learn about the benefits of copper, how it differs from other materials, and who might benefit from using it the most.
In our top picks and copper cookware reviews, you will discover great buying options to help you decide what the best copper cookware is for you and your kitchen.
Why Copper Cookware?
All metals are good conductors of heat which is why we use them for cooking. We can make a pot or pan out of metal, put it on a cooktop, and it will get hot.
However, all metals aren't created equal. Every element and alloy has unique properties that make it more or less suited for various uses.
Iron, for example, is magnetic, very strong, and a poor conductor of heat. You might have a decade's old cast iron pan sitting around the house that you use for searing a steak occasionally.
To use it, you have to turn the heat up pretty high and leave the pan on the cooktop for a while to get it hot enough, but once it gets hot, it stays that way for a while. Many cooks prefer iron pans for cooking jobs that require a very hot pan for this reason.
Copper, by contrast, conducts heat very well. About four times as well and it boasts a thermal conductivity of 400 watts per meter kelvin difference versus iron's 80. What does that mean for you as a home cook?
The Benefits Of Copper Cookware
Let's imagine that heat is a sauce for a minute. When we pour heat into our cast iron pan, it's a thick tomato sauce. If we pour it into the center, it'll spread out to the edges eventually, but it'll take a little while.
When we try to pour the sauce out of the pan, it will flow slowly and leave a lot of residues.
By contrast, when we pour our heat sauce into our copper pan, it's a lot closer to milk. It will spread quickly over the entire working surface, and when we pour it out, it will flow out easily and leave very little residue.
Keep in mind that we don’t recommend putting tomatoes or acidic foods in copper cookware, more on this in a minute.
This analogy describes the primary draw of copper cookware. It's one of the absolute best conductors of heat, beating aluminum (200 W/mK) and steel (15 to 50 W/mK).
What does that mean? It means copper heats up very quickly to match the temperature of your cooktop.
Heat flows very freely throughout it, meaning that every spot in your cookware will be the same temperature. It's also very quick to respond when you turn down the heat.
The Disadvantages: What's The Catch?
- Copper is reactive
- Difficult to keep clean
Copper is reactive which means that cooking things like tomatoes, vinegar and onions in a pure copper pan cannot only discolor your cookware, it can also produce chemical reactions that make your food taste bad.
Copper is best washed by hand with a gentle detergent. While this keeps it clean and sanitary, it will lose its shine over time through even the gentlest use.
When copper loses its luster, it requires a copper cleaner or polish to bring it back.
Luckily, most copper pans are lined with stainless steel. This provides a safer, easy to clean cooking surface. So you’ll only need to worry about the outside of your cookware.
It's especially important to clean your copper well if it develops green spots or tarnish. Using a mild acid like vinegar or ketchup to assist in cleaning tough spots and stuck foods can help as mentioned in our guide on how to clean copper pots.
SEE ALSO: How To Clean Copper Pots
Is Copper Cookware Safe?
Copper dissolves in weak acids and is slightly toxic. If you have exposed copper in your cookware, be cautious when cooking and make sure you understand the acidity of what you're putting in your pans.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, eating foods with too much copper dissolved in them can result in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
For copper coated cookware, the inner lining of your cookware is likely to be something non-reactive, like stainless steel. If this is the case, you can freely cook with acids and other reactive foods as long as the lining is intact.
In our Gotham Steel Cookware review you'll learn the difference between pure copper and their ceramic copper coatings.
If it's scratched, cracked or damaged, however, you probably want to go to a local shop and have your cookware repaired before you cook with it.
If you’re using 100% copper cookware, such as a pot for making candy, keep in mind what you’re cooking inside it and avoid acidic food and liquids.
Types Of Copper Cookware
It's important to understand how much of what material is used in the cookware you're considering. The most popular types of copper cookware are:
- 100% Copper
- Copper Core
- Copper Bottom
Rather than making pots and pans entirely out of copper and lining them with steel, some manufacturers choose to make their cookware out of aluminum or steel and use a layer of copper on the bottom to make the cookware heat faster.
Others, like All-Clad, offer a line of cookware with copper sandwiched between layers of aluminum and steel to combine the benefits of each material.
Aluminum is cost effective, light, and heats reasonably well.
Steel is strong and easy to clean, and copper helps conduct heat throughout the entire piece.
Which Copper Lining Is Best?
All metals perform differently when used as the lining to your cookware. If you have a favorite pot or pan at home, do some research and see what it's made out of. You can probably get a copper cookware set with that metal as a cooking surface.
If you're not sure, stainless steel is a safe bet. It's easy to clean, very non-stick if seasoned properly, and extremely durable and non-reactive. Other options (like nickel) can be delicate and difficult to clean without damaging your pan.
Top 15 Best Copper Cookware Reviewed
1. Lagostina Martellata Tri-ply Hammered Stainless Steel Copper Skillet
Perhaps you live alone or want to test what copper cookware can do for you. There’s the option of buying individual pots and pans.
It’s safe to use metal utensils in the Lagostina skillet because it’s lined with stainless steel.
This also means that you don’t have to worry about food reactions. That said, you still need to treat the inside as you would with any other SS product.
The hammered finish is supposedly for better heat retention and heat control. Without the technical tools to test for this, there may or may not be any benefit. We’re satisfied that copper is already better for heat conductivity than straight stainless.
The pan is oven safe up to 500F so you can go right from a gas range cooktop to the oven to finish or keep your meals warm. This is a great way to make “one pot” meals.
The price of the skillet let’s most people enter into the world of copper cookware without breaking the bank.
2. All-Clad Copper Core 5-Ply Cookware Set
There are a few things that are most important when buying a copper cookware set such as quality, price, and overall value.
We feel that the All-Clad Copper Core set is a serious cookware contender and meets or exceeds those three important criteria. So what makes it so great?
This is a high-quality set made in the U.S.A. Each piece is noticeably heavier than cheaper cookware of a similar caliber.
The handles are reinforced with cast-iron, and All-Clad incorporates 5 layers of metal which is designed to help heat food faster and more evenly.
That being said, the quality is reflected in the price. But don’t let the price be a deal breaker. After all, this cookware is primed to last a very long time.
To make the deal sweeter, All-Clad includes a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects. In terms of value, there are 3 options for purchasing a set. It comes in 7, 10, and 14 piece sets.
Check out our All-Clad Copper Core Review for more details.
3. Mauviel Made In France M'Passion Copper Saucepan
French copper pots such as the 1.9 quart Mauviel M'Passion is the type of pot that works well for making candy, caramel, and other foods that require very exact temperatures.
The base, handle, and rivets are made from 100% copper. This leads to a heavy pot and excellent heat distribution while cooking. But because of this, it will become extremely hot, so it’s best to use proper heat resistant gloves when handling.
Copper isn't cheap! This pot is definitely for someone who is serious about making candy. It might also be the perfect gift for those who aren’t so willing to purchase expensive cookware for themselves.
Keep in mind that this is more of a lifetime purchase and not something that is going to need to be replaced in a year or two.
4. Anolon Nouvelle Copper Stainless Steel Cookware Set
Initially, we wanted to recommend Cuisinart's Try-Ply copper bottom set, but we decided that the Anolon Nouvelle copper cookware set fit better with our criteria.
You might consider this set as a hybrid between copper bottom and copper core since the copper is sandwiched between two other metals. The inside cooking surface is stainless steel.
One of the first things that stood out was its compatibility with glass and induction cooktops. Finding the best induction cookware can be a challenge, especially when nonmagnetic metals such as copper are being used.
Price is, of course, something to consider, and we’re surprised that this set doesn’t cost more than it does.
A very thin layer of copper on the bottom of a pan might help a little bit in keeping the temperature even, but it won't help with the sides of your pan, and it probably won't make your pan heat up faster.
If a pan is constructed around a reasonably thick core of copper, heat will flow more freely throughout (even up the sides!), and it will heat faster than a similar pan made entirely of aluminum.
Don't look for words like 'copper core' and 'copper bottom.' Find exact measurements (thickness, weight) and locations (bottom of cookware, core, etc.).
Ideally, you would want a thicker layer of copper for general use and a thinner layer for oven use, 2.5 mm being on the lower end.
5. Mauviel M'Heritage Copper Round Frying Pan
The Mauviel line of copper pans is made in France and has a lifetime guarantee under normal use.
The M'Heritage copper frying pan is built for even heat transmission, thanks to the copper exterior, and has a stainless steel lining. This means that the surface that touches your food is completely non-reactive.
This pan has a smooth copper exterior and will display beautifully with just a bit of polish. Mauviel offers its own suggested polish, but many users have had luck with their current favorite.
The manufacturer doesn't recommend putting this pan in the dishwasher.
The Mauviel copper pans can be used on electric or gas cooktops, but not induction because the copper exterior alone won't heat on an induction cooktop.
6. Anolon Nouvelle Copper Hard-Anodized French Skillets
The Anolon skillet set contains two skillets, an 8 inch and a 10 inch.
The pans are formed of hard-anodized aluminum and feature a non-stick coating on the inside, a layer of copper across the bottom of the outside of the pan, and another layer of aluminum to form a stable base.
The handles are formed of cast stainless steel, and the pans are oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit / 260 degrees Celsius.
These pans are quite hearty and are suited for induction cooktops, no disks needed. While aluminum cookware is often quite light, these pans in combination are more than five pounds total.
Per the manufacturer, they are dishwasher safe, but most users simply clean them up by hand to protect the non-stick surface.
It should be noted that some lightweight aluminum pans can flex over time, putting the non-stick coating at risk. These Anolon pans have multiple levels of metal across the bottom and are less likely to warp over time.
7. Kila Chef Tri-Ply Copper Bottom Saute Pan with Lid
The Kila Chef Tri-Ply pan is built of three layers of metal. The exterior uses 1.5 mm copper, the central core is aluminum for stability, and the interior cooking surface is non-reactive stainless steel.
This pan comes with a flat stainless steel lid. The handles of the lid and the pan are both riveted stainless steel for durability. Per the manufacturer, both the lid and the pan can easily go into the dishwasher.
The Kila Chef Tri-Ply can go from cooktop to oven and will tolerate up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit / 260 degrees Celsius. It should be noted that you may find this pan to be quite heavy.
If you're used to a lightweight aluminum non-stick cookware, be prepared to work a bit harder with this pan, particularly when it's full!
Unfortunately, this pan doesn't have a helper handle across from the long handle, so take care when moving it from cooktop to oven or table.
8. Matfer Bourgeat Copper Cookware Set
The Matfer 8 piece set includes a casserole pan, saucepan, flared saute pan and a brazier.
Cooks who love copper highly recommend the 2.5 mm exterior coating, and the Matfer set is constructed with this copper exterior. The inner layer is non-reactive stainless steel, and the handles are a coated cast iron.
If you're tired of aluminum non-stick or ready to get rid of your best stainless steel cookware, the Matfer Bourgeat copper might remind you of just how much fun cooking can be.
Before you leap, be aware that this set is heavy and will take some getting used to unless you've been cooking on cast iron.
SEE ALSO: Best Cast Iron Cookware
As ever, copper requires special attention, especially if you plan to hang or display it. The Matfer pieces will take some TLC, especially the cast iron handles. You may need to season them over time.
You should not put these pieces in the dishwasher.
9. Cuisinart HCTP-8W Hammered Copper Set
The Cuisinart hammered copper cookware set is a beautiful option for cooks who want the look of copper and the lighter weight of aluminum.
This set contains two frying pans, a saucepan, casserole and large saute pan with helper handle. The hammered copper exterior is quite eye-catching and will display beautifully.
This tri-ply set is built in layers. The exterior layer that connects to the heat source is copper and offers excellent heat conduction. The core is aluminum, which is also a great heat conductor and source of durability.
The inner lining is non-reactive stainless steel. The handles on the pans and the lids are also made of stainless steel and are broadly flared for plenty of space for your fingers.
Per the manufacturer, these pans are oven safe to 500 degrees Fahrenheit / 260 degrees Celsius. The manufacturer also suggests that new users of copper not cook anything on high heat in these pans.
Copper is an excellent conductor of heat. If you're not accustomed to cooking with copper, start on lower temps until you see just what it can do. Be aware that these pans are not recommended for induction cooktops.
These pans come with the Cuisinart lifetime warranty. If you've wanted to branch into cooking with copper but haven't been sure where to start, this set might be a great option to start with.
10. Mauviel M'heritage Copper Cookware Set
The Mauviel Heritage cookware set features 2.5 mm copper exterior for heat transference, and the lining is 18/10 stainless steel for durability and a non-reactive cooking surface.
This set features bronze handles. While bronze is non-corrosive and thus safe from rust, it does conduct heat well. Be certain to use pot holders when moving lids around on this cookware. The handles are quite hearty for each piece in this set and are attached with rivets.
It should be noted that there is no aluminum in this set. While it's extremely durable, it's also very heavy. If you have any condition that limits the strength of your hands, this set may simply be more than you can maneuver.
11. Lagostina Martellata Hammered Copper Cookware Set
The Lagostina Martellata hammered copper set offers two saucepans with lids, a lidded saute pan, a lidded stockpot and two frying pans.
The Martellata set offers three layers of cooking durability. The exterior is bright hammered copper for both beauty and heat transference, thanks to the 2.5 mm thickness.
The central core is aluminum and will also conduct heat well and provide stability without adding a great deal of weight. The internal coating is non-reactive stainless steel and is the only metal in this pan that touches your food.
The saucepans and stockpot of this set offer a flared rim along the exterior which should make it easier to pour out of these pots without mess or drip. This rolled edge is a continuation of the stainless steel interior lining, making sure your food doesn't come in contact with the aluminum core of the pan.
Lagostina offers a copper cleaner that promises to keep the hammered copper exterior glowing. It's quite easy to apply and needs only to be rinsed away.
12. Asahi Copper Egg Pan For Tamagoyaki
The square Asahi Copper Egg Pan is built to cook Tamagoyaki or rolled egg. This egg dish is rolled up tight and pressed flat with the wooden lid.
The core of this pan is tin and is meant to be seasoned like a wok. The first few batches will likely take quite a bit of oil, but over time your Tamagoyaki pan will develop a dark seasoning that will reduce the risk of your egg sticking to the pan.
Work carefully with this pan until you are comfortable with the security of the handle. The pan is not large, and if the handle comes loose, you will be struggling with a hot square of copper that you can't control as you need to.
Thanks to the copper coating, this pan will heat quite well. Cooking Tamagoyaki means working with hot oil and with sweet vinegar, so be prepared for a bit of caramelization.
However, once the pan is seasoned, preparing this protein-rich treat ought to quite quick!
13. Old Dutch Copper Zabaglione Pan
This adorable Zabaglione copper pot is ideally suited for creating the rich Italian custard known as zabaglione, or in France, Sabayon. The bowl is approximately 6 inches high and has a long handle for easy maneuvering over the heat source.
Your Old Dutch Copper Zabaglione Pan will come coated in lacquer to protect against oxidation of the copper. Before you use it, you'll need to remove this lacquer by boiling the pot inside a larger pot.
A simple mixture of water and a little baking soda will loosen the lacquer. You can remove all of the coatings by scrubbing it with a stiff cleaning brush.
The pot itself is solid copper and features a stout brass handle attached with hearty rivets, but can't go in the dishwasher. Also, acid and copper are not a good combination. So while you can use this pot for dishes other than dessert, it shouldn't be used with foods containing tomato or lemon.
14. New DEMMEX Hammered Copper Saucepan
If you're just starting out with copper, the DEMMEX Hammered Copper Saucepan may be a good start. This pot has a tin lining and is quite lightweight. The hammered copper exterior covers both the pot and the lid and is 1.2 mm thick.
There's no lacquer on this pot so you can put it to work immediately. This saucepan features a long riveted brass handle as well as a helper handle on the far side for easy maneuvering and pouring.
The helper handle and the handle on the lid offer plenty of space for your fingers. Because they're brass, be aware that they will conduct heat, and use pot holders accordingly.
The hammered copper exterior of this pot will age well and develop a rich glow. This pot should not go in the dishwasher and will likely need regular de-oxidizing and polishing to keep its shine.
If you're looking for copper that's beautiful on display and functional on the stove, check it out!
15. Kuprum Tin Lined 4 Quart Copper Pot
The Kuprum 4 quart pot, is almost 5 pounds, is lined with tin and is lead and cadmium free.
Kuprum cookware is made in Turkey and features a lightly hammered design in the copper exterior. It will move beautifully from cooktop to table. Over time, it should develop a rosy copper glow.
This pot features heavy-duty brass handles with plenty of clearance. It also comes with a lid of the same hammered brass.
The handles are all affixed with durable rivets. With just a bit of maintenance after handwashing, this copper pot can become both a useful kitchen tool and a beautiful display piece.
Copper is expensive. The more of it that is in your pots and pans, the more expensive it will be. That means that it's not the best choice for home cooks on a budget.
Copper pots and pans can be made of cast iron, stainless steel, and aluminum. To make it more confusing, you can purchase cookware with varying degrees of copper in it:
- Copper Core Cookware - Pots and pans with a thick layer of copper sandwiched between aluminum and steel.
- Copper Bottom Cookware - Aluminum or steel pots with a thin copper bottom.
- 100% copper cookware - Cookware made entirely of 100% copper usually used for making candy.
If you feel like your cooking could benefit from more precise control of your cookware's temperature, copper is worth considering.
You will want to make sure that you have a set of cookware with a lot of copper in it to put you in the temperature driver's seat.